Be friends with Jesus in order to be his disciples

I’m in the airport in Rio waiting for a flight to Sao Paolo where I will spend about 10 days with some bishops from different parts of the world to share some time of communion and fraternity. Most of them have been here for World Youth Day.  It will be a wonderful time to refresh myself in that aspect of our Christian life called communion.

We have had difficulties keeping in touch via Internet.  Many times my messages wouldn’t go through and now they are a bit old.  On Saturday Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of St. Sebastian in the center of Rio.  Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, seminarians and those in formation for consecrated life were present.  What strikes me each time the pope speaks is that it is simple but profound.  A particular thought that stayed with me is when the said that we should not create our own cloisters, but go to those on the periphery of life.

As is custom for World Youth Day, there was a prayer vigil on Saturday night in which the pope listened to the youth share some very moving experiences of conversion and a witness to faith.  And as always there was music and well-choreographed dances and artistic expressions.

By then there were 3 million people stretched on the 8-10 miles of Copacabana Beach.  With sleeping bags and backpacks they came with food and other provisions to stay the night.  They continued to come throughout the night to reach 3.5-4 million by the morning for Sunday mass.  One priest in the hotel whose room faced the beach jokingly said he didn’t get to sleep until 2:30 a.m. and then at 4:40 a.m. someone started snoring too loud and everyone was awakened and the noise started again.

As you probably already know, it was announced that the next WYD will be held in Krakow, Poland in 2016.

What did we hear and what do we take home?  Be friends with Jesus in order to be his disciples and as his disciples we are also his missionaries–missionary disciples.  This is the challenge and commission for all of us, not jus to call ourselves disciples, but disciples who go to others and share the richness of faith we have received.  This of course must be rooted in our living the word and rooted in the Eucharist.

The Holy Father yesterday, before his departure, encouraged the bishops of Latin America during a meeting with them to create a “Culture of Encounter,” because without a dialogue with those who embrace secularity the Church will not grow or be faithful to its mission.  As a diocese we will have to find our way to discover the appropriate instruments of Evangelization.

When I can over the next weeks (depending on internet availability), I’ll send some news. I continue to pray for all you.

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